In Pursuit of Clarity


What is clarity?

We all crave it. We all desire it. But why is it so elusive?

We all want to know what the futures holds. We want to know that one day all our finances will be in order. That one day we’ll have all our ducks in a row (whatever that means). 

The clarity I’m speaking of has to do with predicting the future. We all want to know what happens next. It’s why we keep watching movies and reading novels. 

We’re always asking ourselves: “What happens next?”

I heard an interview recently with Science Mike that said almost a third of our waking hours are spent daydreaming. But this daydreaming didn’t simply consist of unicorns, rainbows and fairies. Our dayreaming is spent trying to predict the future.

Our brains are powerful. Far more powerful than we can understand. It’s constantly trying to make sense of the world around us...processing what’s important and what’s not important. It’s the reason my toddler runs into coffee tables and couches in pursuit of a nearby toy: her brain hasn’t quite developed to the point that she’s able to easily see the obstacle and avoid it...that’s my theory anyway.

But back to predicting the future -- our brains are constantly trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. So much so that a third of our waking hours are spent working on dozens of potential outcomes. 

Given that we all have a rich history of experiences and knowledge, our minds take that information and try to project it into the future.

Why does this matter?

From my perspective, I think it’s incredibly important to understand that this is happening. Why? Because oftentimes, I believe that the future we’re predicting is a scary one. And if a scary future is what’s being predicted, then our current reality is spent in fear...NOT in clarity.

What an interesting dichotomy. 

Stuck between clarity and fear

As Donald Miller points out, our brains crave clarity and avoid confusion. So why is it that our future-predicting brains can create so much confusion if clarity is what it desires?

To be honest, I don’t know. But I have some ideas.

For me, much of my daydreaming ends up focusing on all the ways in which I could die, fail or be rejected. Pretty morbid, but true. 

When there’s someone I’d like to meet to network with, my mind automatically goes to all the ways that meeting could backfire on me. 

When there’s a hike I want to go on with my family, my mind automatically thinks of all the ways we could die in the wilderness. Bear attack. Mudslide. Avalanche. Falling off a cliff. You name it and I’ve probably thought about it.

I’ve realized that my brain is just trying to protect me. But in trying to protect me, it amplifies my fears. And living in fear is no way to live at all. 

This might be a stretch, but what I’m saying is:

In pursuit of clarity for your future, don’t let your future-predicting, fear-inducing brain keep you from taking the risks necessary to achieve your dreams and live a rich, full life. 

Maybe your mind doesn’t bring up as much fear as mine. If so, that’s awesome. Kudos to you! Still, don’t let a lack of clarity in your life paralyze you, as it does so many. 

Many of us have grand goals and dreams, but because we can’t predict the end we don’t take a single step. We stay stuck. And unhappy. Paralyzed. 

Take a step!

Clarity comes with movement. I can map my way to the grocery store, but I can’t predict all the obstacles that might be in the way. And I’ll never know until I get in the car and drive.

So, get in the car and begin your journey. It might take you where you expect. Or it might take you in a completely different direction. And that could be a good thing.

What sorts of fear keep you from taking a step in the right direction? In what ways have you quieted the fears and overcome the obstacles to clarity? Leave a comment below!

Derek HarveyComment